Is Inflammation Normal?
Appearing as redness, heat, swelling, and pain at the site of injury, inflammation is crucial to self-healing and the body’s defense system. When an injury occurs, the blood rushes to the site to help it heal, resulting in heat and redness. The movement of fluid and white blood cells into the area result in swelling and the release of chemicals and compression of nerves cause pain.
Chronic Inflammation Can Lead to Degenerative Diseases
The connection between inflammation and injury is well known and most people understand that diseases like arthritis, asthma, and Crohn’s are related to inflammation. What is now becoming apparent is that when inflammation occurs at the cellular level, it can lead to degenerative, chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, depression, and many others. Chronic inflammation can last for years if the root cause is not eliminated.
Causes of Chronic Inflammation
Some of the present day causes of chronic inflammation are:
- Poor diet – high in sugar, flour, processed foods, processed saturated fats, and trans fat
- Hidden chronic infections – viruses, bacteria, yeasts, parasites
- Lack of exercise
- Hidden allergies – foods, environmental
- Toxins – mold, mercury, pesticides
Is Inflammation Hiding In My Body?
How do we know if inflammation is hiding in our bodies? Some of the signs might be allergies, gas, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, feeling tired all the time, puffy face, puffy bags under eyes, high blood glucose levels, itchy skin, gum disease, depression, anxiety, brain fog, and erectile dysfunction.
How Do I Get Tested For Inflammation?
Currently, conventional medicine offers a blood test called C-reactive protein. According to www.medicinenet.com, “C-reactive protein (CRP) is a blood test marker for inflammation in the body. CRP is produced in the liver and its level is measured by testing the blood. CRP is classified as an acute phase reactant, which means that its levels will rise in response to inflammation.” While C-reactive protein can measure general levels of inflammation, it cannot determine where the inflammation is located or what is causing it.
Thermography Can Locate Inflammation in the Body
Thermography, digital infra-red thermal imaging, is able to detect areas of inflammation throughout the body. By definition, inflammation produces increased heat in the body. The digital infra-red camera takes a picture of the heat being emitted from the body surface and displays it in a color pattern. Each person has their own unique thermal patterns. These heat patterns provide the interpreting doctors, who are certified in thermology, with information that can help in detecting early changes, like inflammation, associated with the disease process. Thermography can also be used in the detection and monitoring of unexplained pain, vascular disease, immune dysfunction, IBS, and more.
One way to begin clearing chronic inflammation and its effects on the body is through diet. Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collards), nuts (almonds, walnuts), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines), fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, oranges), tomatoes, and olive oil. Many of these foods are also high in antioxidants.
Reducing Chronic Inflammation
While a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants are well known to decrease chronic inflammation, changes in other aspects of life are necessary as well. According to Kellyann Petrucci, ND, who is a leading naturopathic physician, nutritionist, and inflammation expert, the following are important steps to take in preventing and healing chronic inflammation.
- Avoid antibiotics, antacids, and NSAIDs – these alter the gut microbiome, causing changes that can lead to "leaky gut”
- Respect mind/body connection – practicing meditation, yoga, and tai chi have been shown to reduce inflammation
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce exposure to toxins – reduce herbicides and pesticides by choosing organic; switch to more natural self-care and cleaning products
- Sleep longer – at least 7 hours a night
- Get some sunshine – natural Vitamin D from sunlight boosts the immune system
- Get a massage – massage lowers levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines
Stop Inflammation in its Tracks
Understanding that chronic inflammation can attack the body, causing an escalation in the disease process, makes locating and treating it a priority. Adding thermography as part of an annual health screening can help gauge your inflammatory risk. Identifying areas of inflammation provides a wake-up-call, giving credence to the quote “seeing is believing”. In addition to thermal imaging, routinely adding anti-inflammatory foods to the diet and making the above mentioned lifestyle changes can increase the chances of stopping inflammation in its tracks.